Clippers in ‘Rivalry Denial’

I wonder if DeAndre Jordan and the rest of his Clippers teammates would change their tune after last night’s game against the Lakers. Jordan claimed before the game that while the matchup was important, the “Battle for L.A.” was just an important game with some playoff implications, and there’s no rivalry there.

“Honestly, I don’t think it is one,” Jordan said. “But I’m not worried about any other team. I don’t care about them. I respect them as a team and as players. Once we step in between that line, I could care less about any accomplishments they have… We’re not going to back down to anybody. We’re going to stand up to the challenge. It’s going to be a physical game. It’s going to be some talking in the game. We’re not going to back down to anybody, whether it’s the worst team in the league or the best team in the league. That’s how we are going to get better.”

His teammate Blake Griffin feels the same way.

“It’s not really a rivalry,” Griffin said. “It’s a game between two teams that play in the same city, play in the same building. It’s just another game.”

I say they’re both full of it.

Watching that game last night, you could tell that game meant more than just playoff implications. You could see the passion in Griffin’s eyes when he made a fool of Pau Gasol (twice). The Clippers wanted so badly to win that game, it was obvious. This game meant more than a notch in the win column.

And it just had the feel of a rivalry game, didn’t it? You could see the animosity, the determination, the desire on both sides of the floor.

And even though the colors on the floor had changed, Kobe Bryant felt right at home, showing why he’s one of the most clutch players in the NBA and closing out the Clippers once and for all. When he hit that jumper to put the Lakers up 4 with 24 seconds left, you could feel all Clippers, the fans, the entire stadium (minus the Laker fans) deflate. It will be interesting to see if the Clippers can bounce back from such a heartbreaking loss.

The Clippers haven’t won the season series against the Lakers since 1993, and now they’ll have to wait another year. They most likely won’t see each other in the playoffs, so it will probably be a while before we get to see them butt heads again, but I really feel like this is the start of something great between these two teams, whether the Clippers realize it or not.